Somerset Village Agents are driving communities to do it for themselves

img_0914-2Nether Stowey Community is delighted to announce the launch of the Stowey Shuttle Scheme on Monday the 3rd October. This is a local, not for profit, community-led car based travel scheme. It will be operated by volunteer drivers using their own vehicles. It is designed to help local residents who have difficulty using public transport, who must travel to or from locations and where there is no public transport available.

Somerset Village Agent, Alison Hoare played a vital role in the start-up of the scheme, organising a community meeting and inviting Somerset County Council’s Moving Forward initiative and former Village Agent Yvonne Bulman, to talk about the support and toolkits available. Alison kept her foot to the floor and continued to keep the community involved. Ultimately, this resulted in local community volunteers coming together to move the project forward. Nigel Philips, Chairman of the Stowey Shuttle, took the helm and the community really demonstrated their capabilities in creating this scheme.

Alison said: “I handed over my contacts list and a copy of the toolkit, stepped back and let the newly formed committee bring the scheme to fruition.  They have done brilliantly, sorting out grants, a constitution, bank account and booking procedures, registration of drivers with no further help from me, to the point where the scheme is now ready to rock and roll.

It is fantastic to see the community work together and support each other, I am so pleased to have worked with them and they are a credit to their community.”

The types of journeys this scheme is designed to support are primarily health and care-related appointments and depending on the capacity it may develop to cover things such as shopping trips. It is available to residents in the Parishes of Nether Stowey and Over Stowey who need to make journeys in the local area.

Nigel Philips, Chairman of the Stowey Shuttle said: “After some great work from Alison Hoare our Village Agent setting up preliminary meetings, we now have a ready to go community car scheme … Our villages are already very neighbourly and community orientated but the addition of this travel scheme should help to make our villages even better places to live.”

The cost to the passenger is worked out on miles travelled and they will be told this before completing their booking. The drivers offer their time freely and in return receive expenses in respect of the mileage they incur. They require at least 48 hours notice to set up the lifts. From 3rd October the number to call is 07943923742.

The scheme is run by a formal committee of volunteers chaired by Nigel Philips. It is being supported by grants from Nether Stowey Parish Council and The West Somerset Car Scheme Partnership.

The Committee of a similar local scheme in the neighbouring village of Stogursey have also been very generous, giving their time and the benefit of their experience in setting up the Stogursey Stagecoach last year.

If you are interested in setting up a similar scheme you can download a toolkit to help get you started at www.movingsomeretforward.co.uk